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A cold warning as nuclear power plants shut down


BRITAIN FACES the real risk of blackouts this winter because of unexpected shutdowns at the nuclear sites, energy researchers have warned.

Higher gas prices and outages are predicted as gas-red power plants ramp up generation in an effort to meet the worst case scenario of a 6gW drop in nuclear generation.

Energy analysts Wood MacKenzie's report A Nuclear Winter for the UK? was published following the sudden shutdowns last month of reactors at Hunterston B and Hinkley Point B due to boiler tube cracking.

In addition it was announced that Hartlepool had been shutdown for works and its sister plant Heysham 1 would also have to close. Dungeness B is out until April next year due to refuelling problems.

Heysham 2 and Sizewell B are out of service but are expected to be fired-up in time for this winter.

The National Grid puts peak electricity demand in the UK at 63.1gW, being met by a capacity of 76.3gW. With the nuclear outages peak capacity is cut to 70.3gW.

To keep the reserve margin at 20%, generation at gas-red power stations must be ramped up. This takes 27Mm 3/day of gas away from industrial customers.

This is twice as severe a situation as last year when one in eight industrial customers suffered interruptions.

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